Chronext is reportedly preparing to list on the Zurich stock exchange and the company’s German compatriot Chrono24 could be next, according to unnamed sources quoted by Reuters.
An initial public offering could value Chronext at up to €1 billion, people close to the matter told Reuters.
Chronext’s planned IPO in Switzerland is expected to take place in September but could be brought forward to July if market conditions allow, sources said.
It is said to be working with banks including UBS and Bank of America, with Evercore acting as IPO advisor, but neither Chronext nor the banks would confirm the news.
Earlier this year, Chronext appointed Jacob Fonnesbech Aqraou as chairman of its board.
Mr Fonnesbech Aqraou has been a serial investor and advisor in European technology businesses for the past five years following 13 years at eBay, where he rose to become senior vice president for eBay marketplaces in EMEA.
Hamdi Chatti joined the Chronext board at the same time. He is a luxury specialist whose 25 year career has seen him working with Richemont and LVMH brands including Cartier, Piaget and Montblanc, Harry Winston and LVMH Jewellery and Watches and was chairman of Damas Jewellery, one of the Middle East’s largest jewellers, until the end of last year.
The pandemic has fueled a steep rise in online sales for luxury watches in both the primary market — Watches of Switzerland Group reports ecommerce sales more than doubled — and the secondary market where Chronext and Chrono24 operate.
The two German companies have very different business models.
Chrono24 is a pure online marketplace similar to eBay where buyers and sellers connect with minimal oversight from the company.
Chronext is an online retailer that either sells watches that have been consigned by sellers or have been bought by the business before selling them on. In either case, the buyers and sellers are protected because the watches are authenticated on the way from one to the other.
The Reuters report says Chronext has annual sales of more than €100 million, a figure that cannot be verified, with turnover up by 25% in 2020 in Germany.
Chrono24 said in March that sales rose by 50% last year as it announced Stephan Kniewasser as its first chief financial officer.
Mr Kniewasser took up the post at the end of 2020.
Mr Kniewasser’s 25 year career has taken him from the banking and finance sector into digital pure plays including a two year spell as CFO and managing director at Teamviewer.
Chrono24 sparked rumours of an impending public listing when it drew attent to his experience with IPOs.
“Stephan [Kniewasser] helped to take Consors public more than 20 years ago. Since then he has been instrumental as CFO in many IPO readiness projects. One of them was Teamviewer, which has reached a market cap of around $10 billion today,” said Chrono24 CEO Tim Stracke.